Hey, some week! Right? Right?
Oof, ain’t that the truth.
You can track the votes of your representatives in Congress here, by the way. (I’m with Tom Tomorrow — we need to implement the phrase “Vichy Democrats.”) Gizmodo has published a guide to unearthing the embarrassing tweets of your enemies. You can also read sudden bestseller 1984 for free at Project Gutenberg, a superb resource all around. Something to think about as at least six journalists have been charged with felonies for reporting on Trump’s inauguration; the D.C. police chief won’t comment.
- Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It’s a day for reflection on current political climates both inside the Jewish community and, in a very big way, outside it. Benjamin Gladstone, writing for Tablet, exhorts Jews not to excuse away antisemitism from their political allies anymore — from the right and from the left. (For more on that, here’s the briefest possible explanation of why it’s antisemitic to bring up Israel/Palestine when discussing issues of Jewish safety — or the presence and existence of Jews at all.) Meanwhile, as Trump moves to close borders and institute immigration quotas based on religion, a bit of cruelty: Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser (because that’s not worrisome enough) is only alive because of chance. His grandmother survived the Holocaust, but couldn’t avoid it entirely, because borders had been closed to her and millions of other Jews who tried to flee Europe.
- You’ve seen all those “rogue national park service accounts” on Twitter, right? They’re really amusing and encouraging. However, as Motherboard rightly argues, if these really are national park employees who need to be protected (and not a ploy to get federally employed scientists to leak to them and reveal themselves), these accounts should verify themselves somehow. It can be done without compromising their identities.
- The podcast Reply All found some precedent for a master media manipulator like Trump who nearly rose to seize real power: Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, a man who literally became famous for inserting goat testicles into men with impotence starting in the late 1910s. This guy gave noted American fascist Father Coughlin his start on the radio, and at least for this instance, the story has a happy-for-us ending.
- Many argue that the real evil we need to keep our eyes on is Mike Pence. Autostraddle has a terrifying piece by a former member of the extreme Christian rightist Quiverfull movement explaining that millions of evangelical conservatives have been waiting for a high government official just like him.
- It’s all a lot, right? Yeah. You need “How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind.” Pair with “The Democratic Base Is Marching Right Past Its Leaders.”
For more on that (and current Captain America writer Nick Spencer‘s latest bit of high-minded grossness).
If you’re still here, I have a completely unrelated personal essay up at Screwball Heroine, for the interested. “You’ll Never Know” takes on how the language of art-making can become gatekeeping all too easily.
Stay brave, friends.
Here we are! Here… we are…!
- A secret GOP vote to demolish an independent ethics committee with congressional oversight doesn’t sound fishy and self-serving, right?
- Look, I know there’s a lot of Judean People’s Front vs. People’s Front of Judea infighting going around on the left, but let’s maybe take this opportunity to advise people to unite and speak out without trying to reclaim the phrase “good German”?
- I don’t know who Rebecca Ferguson is, really, but I appreciate that she’ll sing at Trump’s inauguration on the condition that she sing Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.”
- Do you understand bullet journals? Every time someone tries to explain them to me, my brain turns into an animated cartoon scribble and collapses with a crashing sound effect. PopSci gave it a pretty good try, though.
- I’ve got a Netflix rec, of all things. I’ve become very interested in World War I, and I just discovered David Reynolds, a Cambridge historian who’s written many books and hosted many BBC documentaries about the 20th century. One is Long Shadow, a three-part series not only hashing out how much more nuanced and complicated the players of the Great War were, but detailing how the decisions of a century ago are still driving politics and national identities today. It rhymes so much with Brexit and Trump themes, which isn’t too comforting, but most of all, it uses incredibly vivid period footage that I’ve never seen before, and which is incredibly affecting. I highly recommend the documentary, and I’m looking forward to reading his book as well. April 6 marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. joining the fight, so I hope we’ll all be talking about this a lot more.
Well, there it is, friends. Stay brave.
The news keeps being heavy. I’m trying not to burn myself out, but it feels unbearable in its own way not to be a witness and speak out against this. If you want to stop here, that’s totally fine; here’s a first-person account of falling down a chimney for clicking over, which I appreciate. For something more apolitical, you might enjoy “Wishing Away the Wish List,” about the holidays and the desire to be known; for something about education, try “‘How Old Is the Shepherd?’ The Problem That Shook School Mathematics,” about liberating students from stupid pedagogy.
Here comes the rest:
- I’m working a piece right now about a part of American history we don’t examine much. For ThinkProgress, Rev. William J. Barber II believes we should look to Reconstruction to understand what’s happening and where we’re going. (That site’s justice editor Ian Millhiser, in “The Constitution of the United States Has Failed,” is even grimmer.) Pair with “How to Be a Good Classicist Under a Bad Emperor” by Donna Zuckerberg for Eidolon.
- Princesses are a throwback to another time period or mode of being, for many Americans; in the case of Ivanka Trump, as Sady Doyle argues for Elle, they’re terrifying, and they definitely won’t save us.
- Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg, for the Nib, presents “Being Jewish in Trump’s America,” about navigating skepticism and understanding history. Pair with Return of the Judai’s brief “A Chanukah Message From Chaim,” if you don’t actually understand the reason for the season. (Hint: It’s about resistance and overthrowing oppression.)
- You know how bad Flint, Michigan, is? Reuters found 3,000 sites in the U.S. where lead poisoning is worse.
- CNN’s Tanzina Vega has a 10-point outline for breaking up the overbearing whiteness of the media — or any other business.
Stay brave, friends.
Hello, friends! Are we still talking about Trump? Are we still talking about the Olympics? Or Twitter’s terrible double standard on abuse and “copyright infringement”? Good grief, let’s do some other stuff.
- You want to listen to something really magical? On the Media got in touch with The Daily Caller editor Scott Greer and asked him to justify the outlet’s frankly horrible journalistic standards in its coverage of the Khan family. (Yes, sorry, this is a little bit about Trump. He gets everywhere, yeesh.) Greer’s indignant meltdown over defending the indefensible is gold. By which I mean it’s staggeringly disingenuous, and not so much a dog whistle as a bullhorn.
- The idea that antisemitism is not just a right-wing phenomenon is starting to pick up steam. You may have read Jewish anti-occupation activist Yotam Marom’s “Toward the Next Jewish Rebellion: Facing Anti-Semitism and Assimilation in the Movement,” which is worth your time no matter what your politics. I’d also encourage clicking through most of the threads in Navah Wolfe’s Twitter conversation about the pain of silence as a coping mechanism, as well as this post on the hypocrisy of Olympic athletes’ hostility toward the Israeli team. This blogger is a Bengali Jew, and has insisted before that people across the board take a hard look at their own countries’ history when criticizing another.
- “Rural America confronts a new class divide,” about subsistence farms versus megafarms, and “The Original Underclass,” a comparison between two books about whiteness in rural America, make for an interesting look at poverty, class and politics going back hundreds of years that continue today.
- Catapult is a new outlet to me, but Jessica Miller’s wonderful “Hair in War,” an examination of World War II through women’s hairstyles (not nearly as frivolous as you might think), recommends it highly.
- Related to that, I can’t stop thinking about Atlas Obscura’s article “The Perfectly Preserved World War I Trench.”
Up top: And now for something completely different. I’m not entirely sure why this nicely adorned jalopy lives on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, but I’m glad it does.
I write these posts trying to think both of my friends who are constantly swapping the best links on Slack all day and my friends who prefer to skim the news. For everyone, I think because of its omnipresence around (journalism) social media, you can’t forget to read “The Obama Doctrine,” Jeffrey Goldberg’s remarkable long look at the president’s foreign policy philosophies, taken from multiple interviews over a long period of time. It really is long, but don’t miss it — especially because at least for me, it reinforced, in our time of trouble, how much I’m going to miss this guy and his brain.
Probably you can preface all of these links with “In our time of trouble,” which has the same scansion as a rather phenomenal blues song. Now that I’ve earwormed you (I hope), you should check out those versions — you may not have heard at least two of them.
- If the current state of party implosion is giving you particular angst, don’t worry: Everything old is new again, and we’ve (sort of) seen this before.
- Activist/artist Lauren Besser is struggling with a thing that rings true to me: What if Bernie was Bernadette? What’s the choice we’re really being offered from the Democratic candidates?
- Fightland has an older but fascinating piece on tough Jews — literally, Jewish fighters and the Yiddish they used for those fights. (Can’t say I think it landed the ending, which doesn’t understand power differentials, but the rest, oh yeah.) See also: things I would love Ted Cruz to get through his noggin.
- One more rightly viral piece for the list: “12 Things About Being a Woman That Women Won’t Tell You,” from Caitlin Moran for Esquire UK. I got catcalled twice in one residential block this week, once by a man driving a yellow school bus. Like any of us, I could tell you so much more.
- I loved this week’s episode of Note to Self from WNYC. “Why You Feel More Productive But the Economy Isn’t” is a conversation with Douglas Rushkoff, who wrote Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and it points a damning finger at how expectations for explosive growth warp business and companies at just about every level.
I’ll be honest: I went quiet for two weeks because I was grappling with a news story that was really tearing me up, and because it hit so hard, I was trying to figure out how to talk about it publicly. I wrote up an impassioned-but-reasoned (I hoped) post that languished in my drafts, and I’ve been collecting links from all angles until my tabs have utterly overwhelmed me. Ultimately, though, I realized there are only a few things I would want people to read about the anti-pinkwashing protests at Creating Change 2016:
I have a lot of friends and colleagues I admire greatly who speak out about identity and intersectionality all the time. I hope to be brave enough to write like they do, and I hope we’re all brave enough to listen to each other.
Okay. On to the other stuff.
- Claire Fallon at the Huffington Post wrote “Virginia Woolf’s Guide to Grieving,” a personal essay I could relate to only too well.
- At the New York Times Magazine, Jia Tolentino’s look at Cracker Barrels and belonging cracked open some things about the chain I’d never thought about, despite never being the target demographic for the restaurants either.
- In just some good news, the Chicago Reader highlights a Kickstarter effort to digitize my hero Studs Terkel’s entire archive and put it online for the people.
- After this Q&A with Transformative Works, I’m really looking forward to setting aside the time to read Olivia Riley’s thesis on fandom and gift culture. If you don’t know about the academic study of fandom (they’re called acafans!), you’ll find that the things media often mocks are at heart really punk rock.
- If you really want to get lost in some amazing collaborative work, head over to Vulture‘s “The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy.” I just want to lose days in this, beginning to end.
It’s a good Tuesday when you can share some freelance that came to fruition, so here’s my very first piece for Mental Floss: “7 of History’s Most Unusual Riots.” This was both deeply strange and deeply fun to research — I had no idea people cared so much about, well, their right to grab eels in public, which is not actually a euphemism. Fans of Hamilton, yes, you have a reason to click through too.
What a time to be alive.
- Speaking of Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, she wrote a great quick hit on a Captain America: Civil War theory which neatly explains why Tony Stark is so distraught in the film’s first trailer.
- At Women Write About Comics, Hannah Katzman articulates the need for more Jewish representation, because despite the presence of Jews throughout the comics world, it’s still easier to find fake Nazis than ourselves.
- Meanwhile, the Editor-in-Chief of Electric Literature has assembled a thorough, data-driven look at the so-called war between genre and literary fiction.
- This is not the segue I was looking for, but Pacific Standard took a good look at the death of vinyl in the music world, which pairs with Flavorwire‘s September article “The Premature Death of Physical Media — and the Cult Home Video Labels Keeping It Alive.”
- It’s early enough in December that I’m not yet sick of year-in-review posts, particularly when they’re the Columbia Journalism Review’s best and worst journalism of 2015.